Conversion, Culture and Cognitive Categories – 4

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Conversion, Culture and Cognitive Categories – 3

3. Centered sets:

Could it be that our problem with deciding whether Papayya is or is not a Christian has to do with the way we form our mental category “Christian”?

But there are other ways to form categories. A second way is to form centered sets. A centered set has the following characteristics:

a. It is created by defining a center, and the relationship of things to that center. Some things may be far from the center, but they are moving towards the center, therefore, they are part of the centered set. On the other hand, some objects may be near the center but are moving away from it, so they are not a part of the set. The set is made up of all objects moving towards the center.

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Conversion, Culture and Cognitive Categories – 2

Conversion and category differences

What does it mean to be a Christian? Before we can answer this question we must look more closely at our own thought patterns—at what we mean by the word “Christian.” This word, like many other words, refers to a set of people or things that we think are alike in some manner or other. It refers to a category that exists in our minds. To be sure, God, looking at the hearts of people, knows who are his. It is he who one day will divide between the saved and the lost. But here on earth, we as humans pass judgments, we decide for ourselves who is a Christian, and, therefore, what it means to be a Christian. What criteria do we commonly use?

Before we answer this question, we must ask an even more fundamental question: what kind of category are we going to use? Modern studies of human thought (see bibliography) show us that our mind forms categories in at least three different ways, and each of the three kinds of categories has its own structural characteristics. For our discussion here we will look at two of these types: (1) bounded sets and (2) centered sets.[1]

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